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Ringer Reviews - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Ringer Review - NAME

A. FilmicWonder2

United States

Date Posted: 2012-12-30
Tolkien Fan Level: 9
Film Format Seen? 2D 24 fps
Will view again in a different format? Yes

I've seen Jackson's HOBBIT masterpiece now for a fifth time ... and counting — all in different modes or formats, of course. I've noticed while viewing, and subsequently become aware of, a few things:

First, I've adored — among others that I'm sure I've missed — the point-blank 'geek' references to Ungoliant (who spawned Shelob), the Ettenmoors (or Trollshaws), the two Blue Wizards (Morinehtar 'Darkness-slayer' and Rómenstámo 'East-helper', who are also called Alatar 'Radiant-father' and Pallando 'Far-messenger'), Ered Luin, Imladris, Greenwood the Great, Rhudaur, the Watchful Peace, Golfimbul — the goblin-king of Mount Gram (Mt. Gundabad) whose head, lobbed off with a 'great wooden club' by Bandobras 'Bullroarer' Took in the Battle of Green Fields, flew a hundred yards to go down a rabbit hole and simultaneously invent the game of golf (a famous Tolkien anachronism); as well as the visual, or more indirect, implied references, e.g., Dwarf-women; the use of Orkish subtitles; Ósanwe 'thought communication' (telepathy among the Firstborn and the Wise, used in the White Council scene, which, because it's based (as much else is in Middle-earth) on free will, may be 'selective', as it was with Gandalf and Galadriel — to whom also the wizard, by virtue of their ancient interpersonal history as well as her noble lineage, grace and power, showed a courteous and respectful deference); and the visualization of Tolkien's late suggestion, made in letters and essays near his life's end, that the orcish leaders such as the Goblin King and Azog were really 'Great Orcs' — reincarnated Maiar: corrupted, they represent a kind of 'lesser Balrog' — hence, their great size and marked difference from 'lesser' orcs and goblins. Yes, orcs ARE different from goblins: they were, according to Tolkien, 'larger', to cite one characteristic.

For me, all of these choice cinematic additions simply are continuing Jacksonian indicators (for it's likely not all have yet been fully un-'earthed') of the great care and seriousness by which the filmmakers demonstrate to a worldwide Tolkienian fandom not only their commitment to 'showing' as much of Tolkien's universe as possible, but also their attention to the kind of detail that makes true Ringers of us all. They love Tolkien and they love the fans — and it clearly shows in this, their latest Middle-earth masterpiece tailored to the screen.

And just a note on the Eagles, and other 'lucky'-laden agents and events in Tolkien's mythology (and in Jackson's Middle-earth films). Though their entrance into the story seems at times just 'too good to be true', if one comes to know JRRT's rich legendarium and its history, there comes an understanding that he did indeed intend for these to have a 'deus ex machina' role (though a sparing use only was ever to be made of them in 'the secondary world' of Faërie, or the 'enchanted' worlds of 'sub-created myth') — forbidden by the Valar-gods as were these angelic 'agents', be they individuals or worldly forces, to intervene, and thereby rob Ilúvatar's children of free will or heroic effort, except in that 'most dire need at strength's end': hence no flying the Ring to Mount Doom, or the Dwarvish Company to Erebor — just as it was Tolkien's mirrored belief that there also exists a divine 'economy' of such Fateful 'intercession' in 'the primary world' of the 'one true Myth').

And I believe Jackson has masterfully used Tolkien's intention to great effect in his films; for while this Fate-believing filmmaker has never shied away from invoking its use (including a 'deus ex' suspension of the 'laws' of physics and metaphysics to preserve life and destiny: witness the Company 'miraculously' preserved through a 'thunder battle' and goblin-scaffolds plummeting as does Bilbo himself to the roots of the mountain), it has been an economical, unifying use that has marvelously connected the various Middle-earth chapters together, creating great cohesion to the whole. And so, while the life-saving turns of Fate (whether it be the 'sudden' appearance of moths, thrushes, rabbits, wizards, elves, or eagles as 'messengers of Manwë' and the bitter foes of Melkor-Morgoth and his Evil) seem just too incredulous or convenient, they have a decided purpose fully intended by the author.

As John D. Rateliff notes: "The Great Eagles are ... either great spirits incarnated as birds or their (mortal) descendants, just as the wargs are descended from great spirits of evil that had taken wolf-form. The eagles and the wargs neatly counterpoise each other, and each play in ['The Hobbit'] what had already by 1930 become their 'traditional' roles in the stories that comprised Tolkien's legendarium: the one to threaten the heroes and the other to intervene when all hope had been lost and deliver them from evil, almost as a visible grace. 'Deus ex' indeed..." ('The History of The Hobbit', pp. 219-224, 226-27).

The Ratings
The Other Ratings
Martin Freeman 's performance as Bilbo Baggins?
Richard Armitage 's performance as Thorin?
The Overall representation of The Dwarves ?
Andy Serkis' performance as Gollum?
Ian McKellen's performance as Gandalf?
Bilbo's retelling of the history of Erebor and of Thror/Thrain/Thorin
The Eagles rescue sequence?
The Goblin King ?
Initial impression of Thranduil?
Hugo Weaving's performance as Elrond?
Radagast's portrayal in the movie?
The representation of Goblintown?
Cate Blanchett's performance as Galadriel?
The Bag End Supper scene?
The scene of the Trolls?
The representation of the Arkenstone?
The Stone Giants?
Escape from the Goblin cave?
Riddles in the Dark scene?
The return to Rivendell?
The attack on the party by the Wargs
The first glimpses of Smaug?
The ending of the movie; in regards to leading well into the next film, and serving as a good ending point.
The overall pace of the film
Peter Jackson's vision in bringing the Hobbit to the big screen.

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